The South Downs lead to the unforgettable chalk cliffs of southern England

White Cliffs of the South Coast

Brighton Pavilion on the south coast  

The exotic rooftops of the Brighton Pavilion are one of its noted features. The building is now used for weddings and events.

Places to visit on the South Downs

Among the notable places to visit on the South Downs is the town on Lewes, especially on the 5th of November to observe its Bonfire Parades extravaganza.

The Queen Elizabeth Country Park has 2,000 acres of meadows and woodland in the South Downs National Park. There is plenty of parking for visitors, an interesting and welcoming visitor centre with a children's nature corner and interactive sections plus picnic tables outside. It is also a good place to stop for a break during any drive down to the south coast and Portsmouth.

Ferries from Portsmouth transport passengers and their cars to the Isle of Wight. This is a very efficient and regular service that would allow a day trip although the cost of ferrying a car across would be prohibitive. The Isle of Wight is another most charming rural area - perfect for a walking or cycling holiday.

Streams of walkers and walking groups traverse the South Downs following the South Downs Way long distance footpath.

walkers on the South Downs

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Holiday Cottages on the South Downs for coastal views

South Downs southern England

A walking journey through the South Downs

The long coastline from Sussex and Kent shores is deemed the 'Gateway to England' and has held this position for centuries. This south east corner of England emanates from the Straits of Dover and falls into the English Channel. The landscape consists more of a coastal terrain, swampy marshes and, towering white cliffs, opening the gateway to the English Channel.

The Romans landed here in AD 43 and left behind a huge legacy of shore-castles in the United Kingdom. Although, many of them are in state of ruins, in some instances, they have been turned into antique castles from the medieval era. The Anglo-Saxons also have a history of invading England through this stretch of the coast, and Cinque Ports were built to fend off Danish marauders. The Normans landed here in 1066, and William the Conqueror, built a collection of fortresses such as those found at Rochester, Canterbury and Dover.

White cliffs are the first view that visitors arriving by boat to England see

The South Downs wide beaches, marshes and, chalk cliffs face the front of the English Channel. This is backed by the undulating hills of Sussex, the heaths of Surrey, and the fruit farms of the Weald. As you can anticipate that other than discovering many ancient fortresses, one can also explore this fascinating area on horseback, on foot through rambling and hiking, and also by biking in order to get a detailed view.

The South Downs Way is markedly different from some other coastal areas in the UK, because of its military history; it was always the first point of entry in an invasion. The place is full of unexpected haunts and well-worn ancient paths dating back to the Stone Age. The area has several rivers, such as the Adur, Cuckmere, Ouse and Arun that slither through the valley down below. The panoramic approach is well worth capturing in your camera, to show your family and friends. Views like this are a rarity, at times the weather can change the outlook of the area. The coastal areas are prone to sweeping mists coming inland off the sea, even during the summer.

For ramblers and walkers, crossing the grassy slopes of the North and South Downs into the Weald, can be quite an exhilarating experience. The mood for this walk is usually one of deep contemplation, underlined with the peace and solitude of all that is around you. This part of South Downs has also been a considerable source of inspiration to a selection of famous poets and writers. Dickens had a home here, and wrote most of his novels from Kent - the troubled history of the area was a wonderful source of inspiration to him, Defoe wrote the book Robinson Crusoe at Cranbrook.


Self catering accommodation for walking holidays in the South Downs

Lovely as it is to visit the South Downs and enjoy the long walks across the Downs down to the cliffs and coast, walkers need somewhere to stay. There are the usual places such as youth hostels but also plenty of independent self-catering accommodation in the form of large houses, bunk houses and cottages to rent for a weekend break or up to several weeks.

Walking holidays are the best way to explore this area because of its close associations with the Romans Anglo-Saxons and the Normans. Although many of the dense forests were cleared, and the wood used for construction and other purposes you have all the time in the world to observe what remains. Today, this stretch of the coast is littered with numerous charming hamlets and villages, mansions, cottages and farms. You can appreciate the forest ambience in the Wealden Forests of Ashdown and St Leonards, greatly enhanced by herds of wild deer that still roam some parts of the area.

If you would rather experience the history of the area, then you can always see the many stately homes found scattered throughout the South East part. Penshurst Place, the part-restructured 600 year-old mansion, and has some impressive examples of antiques, not found anywhere else in England. Other notable historical buildings such as the restored 13th-century Michelham Priory, has one of the largest moats in the country, and your limit is your imagination. The 17th and 18th century buildings of Petworth and Goodwood are the key attractions as is the well thought out Royal Pavilion at Brighton. A deer herd at Petworth House is shown below:

deer herd at petworth house




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